DIGGS LEADS ZIPS TO WIN OVER OHIO
ATHENS — Quincy Diggs scored 20 points, including the final basket in both overtime sessions, as Akron beat Ohio 83-80 on Sunday night.
Diggs scored nine points during the extra time for Akron (10-5, 2-0 MAC).
Diggs made the deciding basket of the game with 34 seconds left. Ohio’s Stevie Taylor then missed a 3-pointer, but Akron’s Nyles Evans missed both free throws with 14 seconds left giving Ohio a final chance. Ohio (11-4, 1-1) got two 3-pointers off in the final 10 seconds, but Nick Kellogg missed them both.
In the first overtime, Diggs made a 3-pointer for Akron to cut its deficit to 70-69 with 12 seconds left. Ohio’s Kellogg was fouled but missed his second free throw and Diggs hit a jumper from the top of the key to tie the game at 71. Taylor rushed down the court but his layup was blocked at the buzzer.
NFL LOOKING TO SELL THURSDAY TV PACKAGE
NEW YORK — The NFL is talking to television networks about selling a package of Thursday night games.
“NFL Network has done a tremendous job building Thursday night and will retain games, but we are in discussions to air a part of the package with existing and potentially new broadcast and cable partners,” league spokesman Brian McCarthy said Sunday.
NFL Network began airing an eight-game package in 2006, which increased to 13 in 2012. The league could sell some of those games to an outside network, starting as soon as next season.
As the NFL keeps drawing monster TV ratings, any additional games are hugely appealing to networks. The competition for a potential package is even greater with the recent addition of cable channel Fox Sports 1 and NBC’s attempts to grow NBCSN. Turner Sports also could be among the potential suitors.
While the viewership for Thursday night games has been significantly lower than for other packages, live sports are increasingly valuable in an age of DVRs and splintered audiences — and none more so than the NFL. The Thursday night games averaged 8 million viewers on NFL Network this past season, the day’s most-watched program on cable TV each week.
“We want to accelerate the growth, quality and promotion of Thursday night NFL football,” McCarthy said. “Bringing on a partner can help us accelerate our success across all the games.”
LEGAL BATTLE DELAYS BOND SALE TO FUND VIKINGS STADIUM
MINNEAPOLIS — A legal challenge has forced the state to delay a $468 million bond sale to finance the new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, state officials announced Sunday, saying the lawsuit jeopardizes plans to open the facility for the 2016 season as well as a nearby $400 million development.
The bond sale had been scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Jim Showalter said Sunday that he hoped the delay would be brief but that officials decided it was “appropriate and prudent” to postpone the sale until the Minnesota Supreme Court can sort out the legal issues.
Federal law requires that all material information — including any pending legal actions — be disclosed when bonds are sold, Showalter noted.
The bonds must be sold ahead of the Jan. 23 closing date for land near the new stadium in downtown Minneapolis, said Michele Kelm-Helgen, chairwoman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority. Otherwise, she said, the state won’t have money to pay bills coming due for architects and other contractors for work they’ve already done, the Vikings might have to play for a third season at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota because of construction delays, and the entire Wells Fargo/Ryan Cos. office tower-housing-retail development known as Downtown East could be jeopardized.
The challenge was filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court on Friday by former Minneapolis mayoral candidate Doug Mann. He told The Associated Press on Sunday that he believes the bond sale is unconstitutional and that a referendum should have been held to let Minneapolis voters decide whether to finance the stadium. He said it’s one of two legal actions he filed late last week.
after a Hennepin County judge dismissed his earlier challenge in November.
“I’m opposed to this financing being done in ways that are illegal,” Mann said.
Mann drew 779 first-choice votes in the city’s mayoral election in November, which was the city’s first use of ranked-choice voting.
DC GRANTHAM HIRED AT LOUISVILLE
ATLANTA — Todd Grantham is leaving Georgia to become Bobby Petrino’s defensive coordinator at Louisville.
Georgia coach Mark Richt confirmed Sunday night that Grantham had accepted an offer from the Cardinals. Grantham was Georgia’s defensive coordinator for four years.
Grantham was entering the final year of a three-year contract worth $850,000 per year. ESPN reported Grantham will earn $1 million per year at Louisville.
Grantham produced mixed results at Georgia. His 2012 defense was perceived as underachieving, and Georgia ranked eighth in the Southeastern Conference in total defense and 78th in the nation in scoring defense in 2013, when the Bulldogs finished 8-5.
Richt says Georgia already has received interest from “some very, very outstanding coaches” as he begins his search for a new defensive coordinator.
WAGNER MAKES FIGURE SKATING TEAM
BOSTON — Two-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner made the Olympic team Sunday despite finishing a distant fourth at the national championships.
U.S. Figure Skating officials took into account performances over the past year in picking the three women who will go to Sochi, not just their showing at this week’s event. Mirai Nagasu, who was fourth at the 2010 Olympics, didn’t make the team despite taking third Saturday at the U.S. Championships.
Fifteen-year-old Polina Edmunds, who was second, was selected even though she has no major international experience at the senior level.
“Looking at Ashley Wagner’s record and performances, she’s got the top credentials of any of our female athletes,” U.S. Figure Skating President Patricia St. Peter said.
New U.S. champion Gracie Gold also will compete in the Sochi Olympics after winning Saturday.
Wagner finished fifth at the world championships and won the bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final, but she fell twice and failed to cleanly land two other triple jumps in Saturday’s free skate.
Wagner narrowly missed going to the Vancouver Games after she finished third at nationals when the U.S. had only two spots.
“It’s been a really long four years,” she said through tears Sunday.
“I’m happy my federation was able to see beyond one bad skate,” Wagner added.